KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Census Bureau: Americans On Medicaid Steady As Poverty Rises

The number of Americans without health insurance coverage rose to 49.9 million in 2010 from 49 million in 2009, the Census Bureau reported today. The percentage of uninsured -- 16.3 percent -- did not change. Also, despite the economic downturn, the percentage and number of people covered by Medicaid -- 15.9 percent and 48.6 million -- did not change in 2010.

Here's a link to the Census report.

The Associated Press: Census: US Poverty Rate Swells To Nearly 1 In 6
"The number of people lacking health insurance increased to 49.9 million, a new high after revisions were made to 2009 figures. Losses were due mostly to working-age Americans who lost employer-provided insurance in the weak economy. ... The statistics released Tuesday cover 2010, when U.S. unemployment averaged 9.6 percent, up from 9.3 percent the previous year"(Yen, 9/13).

CNN Money: "Some 16.3% of Americans were uninsured in 2010, according to the bureau's report on Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States, statistically unchanged from 2009. ... The percentage of people who had health insurance through their employers fell to 55.3% in 2010, continuing a long, downward trend. In 2009, the percentage of people who had employer-provided coverage had fallen to 56.1%. ... With fewer Americans receiving health care coverage through their employers, government-funded programs like Medicare, Medicaid, military health care, the Children's Health Care Program (CHIPS) and coverage offered by various states have had to pick up the slack. In 2010, 31% of Americans relied on the government for health insurance, up from 30.6% in 2009" (Christie, 9/13) .

Kaiser Health News: "Census officials noted that 2010 was the first year after the recession officially ended. Yet the nation's job status remained difficult, leading to the flatlined health insurance rate. 'With the economy improving, we should have seen an improvement in the uninsured rates, but we didn't see that, because the unemployment rate didn't change," said Paul Fronstin, director of health research at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a Washington nonprofit." Other significant findings in the report: "Among households earning between $25,000 and $49,999, the rate of people without insurance grew 0.8 of a percentage point. Uninsurance rates among other income levels didn't change significantly. ... The uninsured rate for children in poverty was 15.4 percent, greater than the 9.8 percent rate for all children. ... The percent of people aged 18 to 24 without insurance dropped by 2 percentage points. The Obama administration credited last year's health care law, which allowed families to keep older offspring on their health plans until they were 26. Still, more than a quarter of young adults in this age group—27.2 percent — lacked coverage in 2010" (Rau, 9/13).

USA Today: "The increase in the the number of people without health insurance is due mostly to working-age Americans who lost employer-provided insurance in the weak economy. Main provisions of the health overhaul don't take effect until 2014" (Stanglin, 9/13).

Los Angeles Times: "High joblessness and the weak economic recovery pushed the ranks of the poor in the U.S. to 46.2 million in 2010 -- the fourth straight increase and the largest number of people living in poverty since record-keeping began 52 years ago, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday" (Lee, 9/13).

The Hill: "The new data reveals just how hard Americans were hit by the latest recession, as the economy still struggles to recover from it" (Schroeder, 9/13). 

Politico Pro: The Obama administration found some good news in this data. In a blog post, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted that the report found a 2.1 point increase in insurance coverage among 18- to 24-year-olds — with about 500,000 young adults gaining insurance. Sebelius attributed the increase to the health reform law's provision allowing young adults to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26.This report, she wrote, 'shows that the Affordable Care Act is working.'" (Feder, 9/13).

Read HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' blog post on the numbers. 

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.